"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Keeping it Simple - Day 4

Okay, no huge revelations, just a whole lot less mental stress.  When I start down that mental path of mind boggling trying to figure out the future, including just the next 1/2 day I'm reminding myself to stop. I think about the fact that "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 God loves me. He loved me long before I loved Him. If He truly loves me like that and He does, then what do I have have to worry about. He's in charge. He has a plan for me (and you).  My job is to love Him with all I've got. Then I'm to love those around me.

So when I start to spin around all the "what if's" in my mind I remember He loves me, really LOVES me. God will be with me whatever the circumstances. That is enough. A pastor/author I like said, "for this I have Jesus" as different situations presented themselves in his day. I like that. So as I head off to work today I'm thinking "for this day I have Jesus." What more could I need?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day Two of the "Life is simple" challenge

So I can say that my attitude has been great for nearly 36 hours now! I'm smiling a silly grin.  I know it hasn't been that long but really a weight has been lifted.  I don't have to figure everything out. I don't have to make everyone happy.

God is in charge. God is love. (I John 4:8) A real sacrificial, no matter what kind of love. Which means He wants the best for me. Not just good. Best!

I'm am to love Him with all I've got. Then love others. (Matthew 27:37-39)  How freeing!

Simple. How do these thought effect your everyday life?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's simple

Okay, call me simplistic or unrealistic or whatever, but I really think we make life too hard. At least I'm sure I have.  Life is really very  simple. I didn't say it was easy but it's simple.  Why do we make it complicated?  I think we make things harder than they really are. Usually that happens in my life when I am really making it "all about me."  Now I may not admit that. In fact I may have some pretty convincing reasons that it's NOT "all about me" but often it's really "all about me."

So to prove life is supposed to be pretty simple check out Matthew 22:37-39. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."

Simple. Not complex. Not always easy but not complicated and a hidden mystery.  So how about we focus on this for the next month?  Want to see what happens?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What are you celebrating?

It's been awhile since I've posted anything but that's because I'm contemplating many things. Life is so interesting.  I am very curious why very generally speaking we tend to be so negative. Even when something good happens we tend to celebrate briefly and always tell the down side of things.

I'd like to celebrate a few things. I have an amazing husband. He's fun, interested in lots of things and loves Jesus. My kids are also great people. All four of them truly care about people and have a wide variety of friends.  They like simple things like just being together, playing games and watching movies.

 I love the colors of nature. There must be 100's of shades of green plus all the other colors in flowers, trees, animals and even bugs!

I'm a music lover. Isn't it amazing all the styles of music.  I can like almost anything except the really hard head banging loud electronic sounding stuff.

Lastly for right now I'm celebrating that there is a sovereign God of the universe that not only created me but loves me, truly loves me. No conditions, no performances, God loves me. (He loves you too.)
What are you celebrating today?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Makings of a Hero

So as I continue to learn from meeting my new "heroes" I continue to realize their conviction is what makes them stand out.  I've just met 9 people who truly believe and live out 24/7 their belief that "one died for all...that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Cor. 5:14 and 15.

Carrie told her story of being a missionary in Iraq along with 4 others, one of them being her husband. She describes a great day of making a new contact with group of people who had a very unreliable small water supply. Her husband and their friends provided ways to improve the water supply. That is how they ministered to the physical needs of these people. After a great meeting on the way home their vehicle was suddenly overtaken by terrorists with automatic weapons. To make a long story short 3 of her friends were killed right there. Her husband died the next day. She tells of brave Iraqi men who came to the rescue of her husband and herself at great danger to themselves. Standing there after many surgeries, a month in the hospital and many, many months of rehabilitation she states, "the only difference between those Iraqi terrorists and me, is Jesus."  See?  She believes Christ died for ALL. That He loves us first. His love is not based on us. It's based on Him. He is love.

When I stop and really think about that, it changes everything. It changes me. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Real Live Heroes

Hero (he-ro)  1. In mythology and legend, a man, often born of one mortal and one divine parent, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods. 2. Any man noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose especially, one who has risked or sacrificed his life. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

I gotta tell you my life has been deeply touched and forever changed. There is an old phrase I've heard before, "Heroes of the Faith".  Mostly I've seen it in articles and books referring to people who lived long before my time, like Martin Luther, A.W. Tozer and D. L. Moody. Today we might think of people like Billy Graham, Chuck Swindoll or Henry Blackaby.  But last week I got to "do life" with some truly incredible people.  You wouldn't recognize most of their names unless they are your relatives or you attended the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference last week.  I  ate meals with them, watched them interact with their families and friends and listened to their stories. They are real. They make jokes, laugh, chase their kids around and learn.They are honest, sincere, and compelled by the love of God (2 Cor. 5:14). Darlene and Tim, Heather, Troy and Tara, A and T, Carrie, and Steve are 9 real life missionaries. Most of them grew up in the Midwest. They are young. Two of them have young children. They liked eating sweet corn and going boating on the Lake. They all had one thing in common. They can't wait to get back to the people God has led them to. Cambodia, Haiti, South Africa, Iraq, Myanmar, and a country we shall leave nameless are all countries without many of our American conveniences. They all speak different languages. One of them told of a village where spoke more than 3 different dialects of the same language in one village.

What makes these people leave their jobs, homes, and extended family for very different homes, food, sometimes lack of good medical care? Christ's love.  Their eyes lit up every time they would talk of someone they had met in their area. I won't forget hearing about Collette or the "policeman". A normally pretty quite gal exploded with "NO, we can't let that happen" on stage in front of hundreds of people when their was talk of tightening entrance to some countries after the recent killing of 10 in Afghanistan. She quickly added that God did not call us to a life of safety and convenience. He called us to life. A life of loving Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind AND loving our neighbors as our self. (Mt. 22:37-39) Troy and Tara as well as A and T cried multiple times as they told of the people they ministered to and with. They long to go back and are only here because of they had to leave due to unrest in their countries. They are very anxious to get back even knowing there is danger involved. I don't think any of these people are "pastors" or have a degree in Bible. They worked in the countries they went to some with families with HIV/Aids, some taking ways to get water to villages, teaching basic health to pregnant moms and moms of new babies just to name a few. They are "regular" people but they are true "heroes" in my eyes.
I have witnessed REAL compassion, compelling compassion. These people are driven from their hearts out to share life and Christ with people whom we (I) think of as so different from us and yet we are really all the same. We are people looking for love. Those of us who know Christ have that love and we're not supposed to keep it. We know that. So we casually show up at church, put some money in the offering, and maybe teach a Sunday School class or Bible Study. Don't get me wrong, these are good things to do. But when was the last time or better yet how consistently do you intentionally live your day looking for ways to share the love of Christ in your neighborhood, work place, or school? Are you looking for ways to make the people around you lives better?  It's my opinion that the difference between my new heroes and me is that they are compelled because they are convinced, really convinced, that Christ died for ALL. Christ died for ALL, not just those who will come to church. That includes our family, neighbors, the sick, those with different morals than ours, those that don't look like us or talk like us. ALL means, well, all, no exceptions.

Thank you Darlene, Tim, Heather, Troy, Tara, A and T, Carrie and Steve. Thank you for allowing us into your hearts and lives, really. For putting "skin on" compassion in a day and age of selfishness. I am challenged to rethink how I live on a daily basis. You are my Heroes! How about you? Are you "compelled"? Share your thoughts. Let's change our world one person at a time. Who will you see today that needs the love of Christ extended to him?

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, tat those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again."  2 Corinthians 5:15-16 NIV